In the second half of 2016, I got a call from Rishi, asking if I’d be interested in doing a screen test for a Channel 5 Panel Show, first of its kind in Singapore because instead of being a sponsored mes or telling us why littering can cause heart failure, it was going to be straight up comedy. At the time I didn’t expect anything of it, I mean I am known for many things in the scene and family-friendly-TV-material wasn’t one of them. Either way, nothing to lose so I took on the audition.
It was an evening shoot at the Caldecott campus, I vaguely remember going there as a kid years ago for a game show about food and cooking, where I won and made the kid next to me cry. Thankfully, that wouldn’t be the last time in my life I made another guy cry for my own happiness. The audition was with the gentlemen from Ministry of Funny, which I had previously watched a few videos of and enjoyed, and Wayne. Now Wayne and I have a weird thing, we just don’t really clique that well. I’ve always looked up to him and respected him, but we’ve just never really worked that well, either in person or on stage. Not only that, I had kind of scolded him a few weeks before on a bad performance for a paid gig, and still held that fear over my head. We entered make-up and hair silently, trying to trade words but realizing the currency was all wrong. Thankfully the MOF gents showed up, and equal ground was found in the audacity that was doing comedy in Singapore that didn’t involve a dress.
We were then led to the green room, which I remembered joking that the naming was not for the walls or the floor, but the mould that had clearly set into the room’s couches from years of use, both legitimate and otherwise. A small TV set from the 80s sat in the corner with no sound and a blue glow, the only way we could see what they were filming in the studio. On it were the other auditionees, a full celebrity panel, and we were goign up against them. Nothing but stars and years of television experience, up against 4 guys that make nothing but dicks jokes for a meagre living. With odds like that it’s no wonder that we all basically gave up and decided ‘hey, let’s just make any jokes we want, not like they’re going to get us back so let’s have a good time’. We sat down, started writing laughing and of course, dick jokes. There is almost a holy rule that if two or three comedians are gathered, a dick joke must be brought up, followed by laughing at the word ‘brought up’, because penis.
It is 10 in the evening, the stars are slowly wrapping up. After a full recording of stories from the old days and jokes so badly delivered that it’d make a wet nurse blush, one star decides to call it quits, whispers in the producers ears, and suddenly, their shoot is over. I never knew the amount of power one could wield would be used to stop an entire production simply because one could be ‘a little sleepy’, but that’s show business I suppose. As they start to wind down, the producer and head writer walks in, and I’m immediately caught in a situation. The head writer is Prem, a man with a full career in the Singapore industry, but also the man that wrote the Noose, a show I have had repeated problems with for their jokes and portrayal of characters. The producer was Chris, an American, which meant my jokes were in safe hands, but he had helmed the 5 Show, another local show with such poor quality that I had nothing but genuine anger in my heart when I learnt his role in it. Two people who held the key to me being on TV, both previously in charge of shows I would not even touch with a stick, and not only would be the ones to get me in, they would be the ones shaping the new show. I was of course unaware at the time of all the fun and joy I would have on OK Chope later, and the show having a lot of faults that I found in both The Noose and The 5 Show that I still actively turn a blind eye to for bias reasons, but at that point in time, it was an active fight in my own brain of artistic integrity and the platform for art.
We chatted up about the show, the games, Prem’s soon-to-be trip to an ever important Olympics for Singapore and green jizz couches. Soon enough, we had to enter the studio. It was make or break time, and I would be the one to leave that studio with the role. I really didn’t know it at the time. Content to just be a guest panellist for one or two episodes, I showed up, tried hard and times and didn’t give a fuck at others. Few weeks later, I got he call, and I was on the show. One of the youngest people in Singapore TV as a weekly recurring main role with absolutely no background, credentials or filters. Also, openly gay. incredibly openly gay. Like a closet the size of my asshole. It was goign to be an interesting ride.